Friday, December 12, 2014

Hacking, 1883 Style

In the days when the telegraph was the primary medium of information exchange there would be, in certain cities, saloons with names like, "The Turf Exchange" where bets could be placed on far off horse races. The sportsmen would then sit around smoking cigars and drinking until the results arrived via Western Union.

As I was researching details on my latest book, my eyes happened to light on the following news item in the Morning Oregonian from October 16, 1883, which has to be one of the earliest instances of hacking for profit that I have seen:

New York, Oct. 14.--The tapping of the wires of the Western Union Saturday, by means of which bogus dispatches were sent all over the country, announcing false results of the Jerome park races, and through which nearly $100,000 was lost by pool sellers throughout the United States, remains as much of a mystery as ever.